Image: The Wire
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal have issued a warning to buses travelling on the Saurashtra-Surat route in Gujarat, forbidding them from stopping at Muslim-owned dhabas to eat. The organisations have asked Hindus to inform them if they witness buses stopping at Muslim-owned eateries, reported Vibes of India.
Pravin Togadia, leader of the International Vishwa Hindu Parishad, posted a warning on social media and on various WhatsApp groups, threatening “violent consequences” for private luxury bus operators if they stop at Muslim-owned dhabas. According to news reports Raju Shevale, secretary of the International VHP’s Surat unit, also circulated a video with the same message. He reportedly, added that Muslim eatery-owners are “deliberately spitting in the food” and mixing vegetarian and non-vegetarian ingredients and utensils with an intention to “pollute” the Hindus.
Shevale justified this warning as retaliation for the murder of Kishan Bharwad in Dhandhuka and is sure that there is a larger conspiracy by Muslim clerics to kill Hindus. This is not the first or only anti-Muslim response to the Dhandhuka incident. Concerned citizens of Gujarat wrote a letter to the Chief Minister of Gujarat demanding action against unruly protesting mobs in Dhandhuka and Rajkot who were destroying Muslim-owned properties and online hate against Muslims on social media.
Many of the dhaba owners, though Muslims of the Cheliya community, already ensure to serve only vegetarian food for the benefit of Hindu customers. They are even careful enough to give their dhabas names that are not overtly Islamic. Purity and pollution practises related to food are still very much alive amongst Hindus in India, and such are the measures that these owners have taken to accommodate this.
Yet the dhabas have already begun facing consequences due to this new boycott order, stated the news report. The number of buses stopping at these dhabas in a day has already dropped considerably, and occasionally owners have spotted people taking pictures of their establishment. Even drivers who received a commission from certain dhabas were redirected to Hindu-owned dhabas by the passengers once they discovered the owner’s religion.
This move has faced opposition from human rights organisations in Gujarat. Mujahid Nafees, convenor of NGO Minority Coordination Committee, wrote to the State DGP Ashish Bhatia urging action against such hate mongering and open threatening and calling for an FIR to be registered.